It seems like we barely had time to enjoy the summer and now we are halfway through fall. I was with friends the other day and one mentioned that she was almost done with her holiday shopping. This news sent our other friend into a frenzied panic. Somehow one friend’s achievement dealt a personal blow to the other. “Well, I guess that makes me a slacker!” she commented. She hadn’t even thought about starting her shopping, while I have been accumulating interesting gifts throughout the year and noted that I need to take an inventory before making my gift list. We all take different approaches to embrace the holiday season, with some tackling things early while others, like my husband, plan to start worrying about it sometime around December 23rd.
I decided that this year I would focus on truly enjoying the process, rather than being in a rush to check off boxes on my to-do list. Here’s my plan to make 2019 the best holiday for my family by bringing Scentered’s mantra of “Stop.Inhale.Reset.” to life:
I vow to slow down and embrace the small moments. Sometimes it feels like there’s pressure to create magical moments. The “holiday spirit” is about the way you feel during the holidays, not about what you do. Trying to do everything to make the holidays perfect can make you less present for your family. Yesterday, rather than obsessing over the fact that the Halloween decorations are still up and insisting that we drag out the Thanksgiving boxes, I decided that it could wait until next weekend and instead suggested a spontaneous trip to Starbucks with my son to get a pumpkin spiced latte. He was excited about the unplanned adventure to savor the taste of fall. I also plan to pause and enjoy the beauty of life’s simple pleasures. I was in my backyard over the weekend and noticed how tall the little rosemary bushes I planted this spring have become. The climate in our area won’t be kind to them this winter and they are unlikely to survive, so I had fleeting thoughts about harvesting and making things like wreaths, infused olive oil and drying them to give as holiday gifts and then remembered, oh wait, I’m NOT Martha Stewart. So instead, I cut 3 long stems and placed them in a vase to keep in my office. Squeezing the cuttings in my hand and smelling the distinctive aroma has me excited for Thanksgiving turkey and looking forward to picking out our Christmas tree.
I can’t say enough about the benefits of deep breathing, but during the holidays, incorporating mindful thoughts into a breathing routine can be a great way to embrace more joy. My pre-holiday breathing plan is to use our Happy balm at the end of each day, taking 3 deep breaths and while holding my breath in between each one, think to myself: I am blessed, I am loved, I am grateful. Since scent is the strongest sense tied to memory, incorporating a purposeful smell into deep breathing and mindful exercises help you underscore sentiments. By deliberately assigning “meaning” to our Happy scent, I’m creating unconscious associations so I can recreate those joyful feelings on-demand simply by using the scent again later. True happiness in a stick!
Sometimes it feels like Christmas Day is the destination, while the weeks leading to December 25 are the “journey” that we sometimes forget to enjoy along the way. I aim to reset my expectations by redefining the “perfect Christmas” and reclaiming the concept of “the holiday season”. It’s time to worry less about “the doing” and more about embracing the experience. Life is not about the Instagram moments when the presents are all perfectly wrapped with their colour-coordinated bows and paper, it’s about the messy in-between moments when you can’t find the scissors and you’ve run out of clear tape and resort to using duct tape. What holiday tradition is stressing you out? Is it baking Christmas cookies? Is it the letter that goes inside the holiday cards? Is it your grandmother’s complicated stuffing recipe that you have yet to replicate? Reset your holiday traditions with ones that serve you. This year, I’m going to suggest to my family that we all keep our eyes open for houses with the best holiday decorations in our neighbourhood. We can all note addresses on our phones, and then the weekend before Christmas, we can take an evening and do a driving “scavenger hunt” to see the best displays. We will snack on store-bought Christmas cookies and drink NOT made from scratch hot chocolate while we badly sing Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer at the top of our lungs. What holiday tradition will YOU reset this year?